Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 102

Chapter 102
The Chain

Violet hurried into Lennie's room.  "I think I've got everything you asked for.  I have the egg shells and...well, everything you wrote down, including the brick dust which I took myself from grinding a rock into some of the bricks in the back of the stable."

"Thank you, Vi."  Gamilla nodded seriously.  She took the cloth-wrapped parcel from Violet.  

"Oh, and Mrs. Pepper had a red ribbon."  Violet took a short coil of silk ribbon from her apron pocket, "And, I had some blue.  It's not a lot, but..."

"It's perfect."  Gamilla replied.

"What else can I do?"  Violet asked.

"You can put the brick powder, the egg shells and them herbs in the middle of one o' Miss Lennie's handkerchiefs and tie it with that string."  Gamilla said.  "Then place the sachet, gently, under her pillow."

Violet nodded.  "Sure."

"You've done this before, then, Gamilla?"  Matthew asked from across the room.

"Well, not exactly, Lord Cleaversworth."  Gamilla answered honestly.  She turned around quickly, and, then returned her attention to preparing the other items Violet had brought from downstairs--hair from a horse's tail, wax from a white candle, the peel of a lemon, some crumbles of earth, some wood shavings, a rusty bit of chain, and a short  length of rope.

"Then, I say, how do you know what you're doing?"  Matthew asked.  He looked around.  "How do we know that she knows what she's doing?"

Punch interjected.  "Gamilla knows what she's doing, Matthew."

"We trust her."  Robert agreed.

"Lord Cleaversworth,"  Gamilla continued, "I may not have done this myself, but I seen my mama and my grandmama done this many times.  When I was a little girl, I saw my mama do this with ladies who done got weak and lost blood from childbirth.  They'd seem like they was dead, and lost, and Mama would do this, and go on to the other side and find 'em and bring 'em back.  She done so with ladies who was sick with fever, too.  My grandmama, it was said, even done it with ladies who were thought to have been lost to demons.  She brought 'em all back."

"Only with ladies?"  Violet asked curiously.

"Only a woman can help another woman, and a man another man.  That's why when his Grace was sick after Miss Fern gave him too much o' that sleepin' tonic, and he was like dead to us for so long, I couldn't do the same.  Somethin' about this gris-gris--only works with the same gender."  Gamilla explained.

"'Milla?"  Gerard asked.  "Is there any danger in it?  Goin' to the other side?"

"Don't worry, Honey."  Gamilla smiled.

"But..."  Gerard came closer.

"Only a little,"  Gamilla whispered.  "Only if the chain is broken."

"The chain?"  Gerard picked up the bit of rusty chain from the table.

"Not that chain."  Gamilla shook her head.  "Here, Honey, grab that bit o' burlap and help me wrap this up.  We'll tie it with the length o' rope and place it at Miss Lennie's feet.  Then, I'll explain how this works."

Gerard nodded uncomfortably.

As Gerard did that, Gamilla walked over to Lennie and gently tied the red ribbon, in a bow, around her left wrist, and, then went to Violet.  

"Vi...can you tie this 'round my right wrist?"  She asked.

"Sure,"  Violet nodded, doing as Gamilla asked.

"Now,"  Gamilla said, once everything was in place, "we're gonna need everyone to be quiet and still.  I'll need His Grace and His Lordship to be near."

"Of course,"  Robert nodded.

"Whatever I need to do."  Punch came forward.

"What happens is, I will sit on the bed next to Miss Lennie and hold her left hand in my right hand.  The person who's closest to her in life will need to sit on her other side and hold her right hand in his left hand.  Then, he must reach  over her body and take my left hand in his right hand.  We will make a triangle over her."  Gamilla continued to explain.  "I figure that the person closest to Miss Lennie in life is His Grace, bein' her brother, and good friend."

From across the room, Matthew made a slight snorting sound.  Otherwise the room was silent.

"Will you do it, Your Grace?"  Gamilla asked.

"I'd do an'thing."  Punch replied quickly.  

"I will say words, slow and soft, and you will need to repeat what I say.  We will both need to keep our eyes shut.  At some point, I'm gonna stop chantin'.  When I do, that means, I reached the other side, and it means I got to Miss Lennie to help her fight her battle.  When I stop, I still need you, Your Grace, to keep your eyes closed, and I need you to concentrate on us.  Think only of us--of Miss Lennie and of me.  If the concentration is broken--if the chain is broken--one or the other of us might not come back."

"Is that so?"  Gerard asked.  "Can that happen?"

Gamilla nodded slowly.  "I'm told it happened once.  My grandmama told me that it happened to her sister.  She was lost on the other side.  The lady she was helpin' made it back, but, her sister didn't."

Gerard put his hand over his eyes and rubbed his temples.

"That's why we need the room to be silent, and we can't have no distractions."  Gamilla said.  "Your Lordship, if you would make sure Miss Lennie's breathin' is good and strong and that we're both safe.  If you see that we're in physical danger, wake me first, please, then, His Grace."

Robert nodded.

"Maybe it'd be better to clear the room."  Gerard suggested.

"I'm not leaving."  Matthew shook his head.

"I suppose Violet and I could..."  Charles volunteered.

"I don't think you have to."  Gamilla replied.  "It'd be good to have all the healin' energy in the room, we just gotta be quiet."

"At least, then, I'll stand outside the door."  Charles whispered to Violet.

"Oh, stay with me, Charlie."  Violet asked.

Charles nodded affectionately.

Gamilla nodded at Mr. Punch who sat down on the bed next to Lennie.  Gamilla sat down on the other side.  "Let's begin."

Meanwhile, downstairs in the Servants' Hall, George Pepper, sweating and panting, ran past Gregory, into the hall.

"Oy, George!"  Gregory shouted, trying to stop him.  "Wait!  Where've you been?"

"As if you didn't know!"  George coughed.

"Here, come talk with me."  Gregory reached out in an attempt grab the lad's arm.

"Let me go!"  George shouted loudly enough to attract attention.

From the kitchens, George's mother heard her son's voice and came running.

"Georgie!"  Mrs. Pepper sobbed.  

She ran toward her son.  "You're alive!  You're safe and alive!  Thank heaven!"

Gregory stepped backward and retreated, slipping away to go and tell Mr. Quick what was happening.

"Mum!"  George broke down in heaving sobs.

"What 'appened to ya, dearie?  We've been beside ourselves!  The whole estate is lookin' for ya!  You and William and Miss Morgana and, now, Fred Perkins!"

"William's dead, Mum!"  George wept.  "Miss Morgana's in danger and so is Fred.  Mr. Jackson and some wicked men have 'em, and that Miss Blessum--she killed William.  They...they want to use us to...to bring the Duchess back to life!  It's awful sick, Mum!  They're under the vicarage in some kind of cellar!  I escaped, but...they're gonna come after me!  It were afwul, Mum!  They were gonna kill me like they done William and they're gonna cut off Miss Morgana's head and flay Fred alive!"

"What?"  Mrs. Pepper took her son by the arms.  

"We gotta get His Grace right now!  We gotta get to them before they kill Miss Morgana and Fred, too!  Where are they?  The Parson Quick said Miss Lennie's hurt--are they with her?"

"She is hurt."  Mrs. Pepper nodded, wiping her eyes.  "They're all in her room.  We'll go there right now."

Did you miss Chapters 1-101 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 103.

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